For the last couple of years, it feels like opportunities to level up have been in short supply. We have been through one of the most cataclysmic events in recent memory, and businesses everywhere were focused almost entirely on survival. We were thinking about how we could make it through the next month instead of working on our five-year plan. And just when things seemed to be looking up in 2021, we were hit by the events leading up to the holiday season that threw many businesses’ plans for recovery into jeopardy. As we head into this new year, it is a great time to think about how you can start moving forward in the spring.
We do not need to tell you that things are brutally competitive out there right now, and we all need to be thinking about how we can take that next step forward to get an edge on our competitors. We need to look for those new windows of opportunity, but we also need to think about the best ways to protect ourselves from the potential hazards that are still out there. Here are a few ways that you can take your business to the next level this year.
Keep Researching Your Competitors
When you first launch a new business, you will of course conduct a thorough investigation of the marketplace as part of your business plan. You will know all about the other businesses in your area of the market (and your physical location), you will have identified any potential niches and you will have looked for what they are doing well. But you should remember that studying the competition is something that you should do regularly. With the market the way it is right now, we need to be doing everything we can to stay one step ahead. Remember that other businesses may have more resources, but their size may also impact their flexibility and ability to pivot, which brings us to our next point.
Look For Ways To Increase Flexibility
Flexibility was one of the biggest watchwords of the last couple of years. For the last eighteen months and more, it has felt like any attempts to make concrete plans were doomed from the start. We all thought that we would return to the office after a few months, but discussion on that front is still very much ongoing. The events of the holiday season forced us to question whether having a brick-and-mortar space was worth the benefits. And then there are the supply issues which have been hitting businesses the world over. How can we plan for growth if we do not know if we will have the materials needed to get us there?
If you want to take your business to the next level in 2021, it is time to start thinking about how you can build flexibility into your business model. Giving up the office is a great place to start. Not only does it free you up from the costs of a location, but it also allows you to be a more enticing place to work for employees. It has been widely reported that workers are not happy about the idea of going back to the office, and with the great resignation, we saw that these kinds of issues are becoming a dealbreaker for many people.
Flexible working hours are a great draw for people that still manage responsibilities outside of their professional lives. It also means that you are no longer tied to finding talent in your local area or having to convince people to relocate. With remote working, you can bring people in from all over the country and use their skillsets. Of course, it is not all about the office. Brainstorming scenarios for your big plans in case things go wrong is a great way to increase your flexibility. If you must commit to a certain date or a certain cost, you need to know all the different ways that things could go wrong, and what you can do to avoid them.
One of the most important things for any business owner to recognize is that you will always be learning. With every victory and failure, there is the opportunity to learn a valuable lesson. But if you want to make sure that you enjoy more victories than failures, then actively seeking out ways to educate yourself on the issues at hand is a good idea. Taking time out of your busy schedule to enroll in an online education course may seem like an expense, but the truth of the matter is that things are changing so rapidly out there right now.
As we emerge from this current crisis, more challenges are looming. What’s more, the tools and technology that we use to do business are evolving at an incredible rate. These will of course bring more opportunities, but they are not without their challenges. From cybercrime to the privacy issues brought about by AI technology, we all need to be thinking ahead and learn more about how these issues could affect our businesses. Northwestern University offers a range of online courses covering everything from leading diversity, equality, and inclusion to digital transformation.
An editable marketing calendar can be an excellent tool that can help you track your progress easily. No matter your business goals, you can track and monitor every step and make the necessary changes whenever required.
Work On Your Online Presence
Given how difficult things have been over the last two years, many business owners have been forced to think about things in a very short-term fashion. It has been all about dealing with the immediate problem, the fire that needs putting out right now, and less about how you can continue growing. Now that we have a little more breathing room and we can see a little further ahead, it is vitally important that we take a close look at how we can improve the parts of our business that may seem less urgent, but which are not less integral. Your online presence is one of the best examples of this. With things being highly competitive, your website and social media channels are some of the most effective weapons in your arsenal. They can also be an anchor to drag you down if you aren’t going about things in the right way. If your homepage seems lifeless and personality-free, then busy customers and clients may simply click away. If your social media presence amounts to a bland channel that fires out occasional links and the odd motivational message, then no one is going to follow you.
With that in mind, you should take a step back and think about giving your website an overhaul. Think about what content you can create that will demonstrate your expertise and experience. Keep SEO in mind when you are writing blogs and articles, but remember that Google is constantly refining and updating its algorithm and that user experience and spam are every bit as important to avoid. When it comes to social media, think about what kind of brand personality you want to convey. Remember to interact with your followers and respond to any comments and queries. Your online presence reflects your business and should be driving your business forward. You cannot take your company to the next level without it.